Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

E. coli in the countryside: whose problem is it anyway?

Date:
August 25, 2011
Source:
Economic & Social Research Council
Summary:
Reducing the risks of catching E. coli O157 in the countryside is everyone's problem. That means we should all take responsibility -- individual residents and visitors, as well as farmers and government -- according to experts.

Reducing the risks of catching E. coli O157 in the countryside is everyone's problem. That means we should all take responsibility -- individual residents and visitors, as well as farmers and government -- according to researchers working on the Research Councils UK Rural Economy and Land Use Programme (RELU).

E. coli O157 is the most common of the harmful strains of the bacteria and this interdisciplinary research has investigated not just its characteristics, but also how people understand E. coli O157 and how their behaviour affects the threats that it poses. E. coli O157 must be swallowed to infect people it can be contracted from food, water or by contact with farm animals, particularly sheep and cattle, and their faeces.

In one-to-one interviews, the researchers found that people believed others should do more to reduce the risk of infection. While farmers thought that abattoirs should do more to prevent outbreaks, abattoir owners said that farmers should do more through better cleaning of livestock before slaughter, and butchers claimed that meat inspectors could be more effective.

In a survey of over two thousand rural residents and visitors, around 45 per cent of all respondents thought that health authorities as well as central and local government should be taking more action to protect the public. But the researchers say that E. coli O157 infection isn't a problem that is easily solved, and the most effective way of addressing it would be for everyone to adopt behaviours and strategies to reduce risks.

For governments at local and national level this means better understanding of where risks are highest, and having effective inspections of abattoirs and waste disposals, and visitor attractions such as open farms to ensure appropriate precautions are in place.

Farmers need to think about the risks on their land as well as in the abattoir. If they are providing camping facilities for example, it is important that these are not in fields where animals have been grazing recently. This is very important as the E. coli O157 bacteria may survive for more than 15 weeks in soil and pasture.

Visitors also need to be aware of the risks of infection and take appropriate action themselves. Many people know about the risks of contaminated food and the importance of washing vegetables and cooking meat properly, but the research shows that 72 per cent of rural visitors say they have never heard of this germ, so cannot be aware that it is often present in the rural environment, nor how long it can survive there.

Even in areas where there have been high profile outbreaks of E. coli O157, and where residents are much better informed, for example in the Grampian region of Scotland, they tend not to see themselves as being at risk.

Dr Norval Strachan, from the University of Aberdeen, who led the research, explains: "E. coli O157 can cause very serious illness, especially in young children. But our research suggests that everyone has to take responsibility to reduce the risk from these dangerous bacteria."

"The reality is that the germ is often present in the faeces of sheep and cattle, and while animals are unaffected, it can have serious consequences for people that swallow it, either via contaminated food or in the rural environment."

"Research has found that the bacteria can persist for example, on stiles and farm gates, where people routinely put their hands. So if you are going on a picnic in an area where there are farm animals, that is something to bear in mind."

"But we don't want to put people off enjoying the countryside. Simple precautions such as washing your hands with soap and water provide the best protection, particularly after touching farm animals and before handling food. If this is not available then moist wipes (preferably antibacterial) should be used until hands are visibly clean -- hands should then be washed with soap and water at the next available opportunity. "

Note: Researchers used two case study rural areas -- one with a high incidence of human O157 infection (the Grampian Region of NE Scotland) and the other with a relatively low incidence (North Wales) and a number of key groups such as farmers, contractors, slaughterhouses, butchers, caterers, and other rural stakeholders.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Economic & Social Research Council. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Economic & Social Research Council. "E. coli in the countryside: whose problem is it anyway?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110825091933.htm>.
Economic & Social Research Council. (2011, August 25). E. coli in the countryside: whose problem is it anyway?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110825091933.htm
Economic & Social Research Council. "E. coli in the countryside: whose problem is it anyway?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110825091933.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins